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Plasmid. 2011 Jul;66(2):67-78. doi: 10.1016/j.plasmid.2011.05.002. Epub 2011 Jun 12.

The large episomes of Butyrivibrio proteoclasticus B316T have arisen through intragenomic gene shuttling from the chromosome to smaller Butyrivibrio-specific plasmids.

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  • 1Ruminant Nutrition and Microbiology, AgResearch Limited, Palmerston North, New Zealand. cjyeoman@illinois.edu


The genome of Butyrivibrio proteoclasticus B316(T) contains three large episomes including a 302 kb chromid (BPc2) and two large plasmids of 361 (pCY360) and 186 kb (pCY186). The two plasmids are largely cryptic and it is therefore difficult to gauge their contributions or importance to the biology of B. proteoclasticus. Here, we provide evidence that at least BPc2 and pCY360 are essential as neither could be cured using several previously described curing techniques. We show that BPc2 exists at a copy number of 1, while pCY360 and pCY186 exist at copy numbers of 4 and 0.9, respectively. Yet the transcriptional activities of each episome are much less than that of the 3.5 Mb chromosome. Codon usage analyses did not support the hypothesis that the genes of all three episomes were acquired horizontally. Instead our analyses suggest that the vast majority of genes on each episome were transferred from the 3.5 Mb B. proteoclasticus chromosome. Analysis of their replication origins, however, suggests the plasmid backbones share an evolutionary lineage with the smaller Butyrivibrio specific plasmids, pRJF1 and pRJF2. A survey of 13 species of the Butyrivibrio/Pseudobutyrivibrio assemblage identified similar large episomes in nine strains. DNA hybridization experiments revealed none contained an rRNA operon and only a 145 kb episome from Pseudobutyrivibrioruminis possessed an ortholog of the pCY360 plasmid replication initiation protein. The size and distribution of episomes within the nine strains of Butyrivibrio/Pseudobutyrivibrio showed no correlation with 16S rRNA based phylogeny, leading to a hypothesis that the large episomes of Butyrivibrio spp., have arisen through intragenomic gene transfer events from the chromosome to small horizontally acquired elements.

Copyright © 2011 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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